Russia and Ukraine must abide by their commitments in the Minsk accord

In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany. It was designed to end the fighting in the rebel regions and hand over the border to Ukraine’s national troops. Ukraine was required to delegate more power to the breakaway regions and introduce constitutional reforms, codifying their special status. Russia’s nod for the agreement was possibly because it thought that delegation of power to the rebels would enhance Moscow’s leverage that it could use to prevent Ukraine’s full integration with the West. But Kiev’s reluctance to implement the agreement and its growing military, economic and political ties with the West seem to have prompted Mr. Putin to change his approach — to putting Kiev under direct military pressure. Kiev is now in a tough spot. It lacks the military resources to deter its giant neighbour. While it gets military supplies from the West, there is no guarantee that the West would come to its help in the event of a Russian invasion. On the other side, Russia might make tactical gains from an invasion, like it did from the annexation of Crimea in 2014, but such a move could further deteriorate its already ruptured ties with the West. So a practical solution is to revive the Minsk peace process. The West should push both sides to resume talks and live up to their commitments as per the Minsk agreement to restore relative peace on the border.

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